What is the Digital Divide?
Today, 12 million young people who do not have broadband internet access are challenged to access their schoolwork and maintain positive social relationships. For these young people, broadband access and education aren’t just critical today but set the stage for their future opportunities.
One-third of young people without reliable broadband report being pessimistic about their future economic prospects compared to their more connected peers.
A lack of access to internet connectivity is one of the most significant contributors to the opportunity gap young people face today. To help these youth thrive, 4-H is partnering with industry leaders to help provide two key things:
Access is not equal. Only 69% of black and brown teens report broadband access at home.
Access is not equal. Only 37% of black and brown teens report broadband access at school.
Only 38% of teens with unreliable connections feel their community has access to a wide variety of job opportunities.
64% of teens believe access to broadband could have helped their community economically during the pandemic.
How 4-H is Making an Impact
Through a coalition of partners, including Microsoft, Tractor Supply and Verizon, 4-H is helping adults in underserved communities find greater opportunities for employment through expanded access to digital skills training and broadband connectivity. 4-H’s active role in addressing the digital divide harnesses the collective power of 18 land-grant universities’ Cooperative Extension System to address the digital divide for the families in their communities. Over the last year, 400 teenagers across the country trained 36,000 adults with tailored digital skills education and training to create more personal and professional opportunities.
National 4-H Council Programs and Experiences
On the ground locally
Harnessing the power and reach of 4-H’s Cooperative Extension network through 110+ land-grant university partners and a “teens as teachers” model, young people are working to provide critical digital skills training to adults in their communities.
Combining Gen Z’s tech-centric knowledge, 4-H’ers’ community service mindset and the potential for digital skills to help everyone from farmers to pharmacists, the 4-H Tech Changemakers program encourages youth to identify what skills and workshops will benefit their local communities. From helping small businesses thrive to using advanced technology on local farms to improve sustainability, young people are challenging themselves to not only learn new digital skills, but also share those skills with others.
To learn more about teens taking action in their communities, visit our Tech Changemakers page and read their stories.
CLOVER Lessons on Leading Digital Skills Information
Creating opportunities to experience 4-H anywhere allows all 4-H’ers to take steps to bridge the digital divide in their own communities. If a 4-H Tech Changemaker program does not currently exist in your home county, check out these resources on CLOVER to get started as a 4-H Tech Changemaker.
Join CLOVER today, and explore our STEM and Computer Science activities.
To find out how you can make an impact with 4-H, please fill out this form or contact Heather Elliott, Chief Development Officer, at 301-792-1023 or helliott@4-H.org.